As expected, the 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan moved virtually (and almost uncharacteristically) without a whimper through the Metro Planning and Programming Committee on Wednesday (the committee is comprised of six Metro Board members). This sets the stage for the big and final vote by the Metro Board of Directors at next Thursday’s Board meeting. If you ever had to bet that the Metro Board would vote on the LRTP, now would be a good time to do it. But before we move on to next week, there were a few things to highlight at the meeting – mainly how the San Gabriel Valley fared with a few lingering requests for the Gold Line Foothill Extension.
Request #1 from San Gabriel Valley to Metro Board members: Open the line in 2013
Elected officials and their representatives from all over the San Gabriel Valley made public comments before the committee. Many reiterated not only that the LRTP needs to be approved with the amount of funding currently included for the Foothill Extension, but also that Metro needs to move the operating date for Phase 2A (to Azusa) from 2017 to 2013.
The highlight of the comment period came from Monrovia City Manager Scott Ochoa, who had a proposition to offer to the Metro Board members: the City of Monrovia has the perfect setup, land, and resources for the much-needed rail maintenance yard that Metro is pursuing, but we need a commitment to get the line up and running by 2013.
Response from Planning and Programming Committee:
No reaction. None. Nothing. Nada. (keep the synonyms for these words rolling)
By that, we mean there was no discussion by the committee before they voted to recommend the adoption of the LRTP.
Request #2 from San Gabriel Valley: Let’s not close the doors on hundreds of millions of dollars by excluding projects that are eligible for federal funding
Speakers from the San Gabriel Valley also told the Metro Board members that they should amend the plan to include the Foothill Extension on the agency’s wish list for federal funding, and should be prepared to fund operations for the line to Claremont in 2017.
In another eye-opening look at our region in comparison to other major cities, we caught a glimpse of Metro’s infamous New Starts funding map (click the image to enlarge) when a member of the public asked Metro staff to show it on the big screen and reminded the Board members that we need to be strategic in our planning or risk losing out on hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few years.
Response from Committee:
A motion introduced by way of Metro Board members Diane DuBois and Pam O’Connor instructing Metro staff to compile a list of transit projects that would qualify for other sources of federal funding.
The report from Metro staff is due in January. Yes, January. However, shouldn’t the agency already know what projects qualify for federal funding?